Robert Guerrero is on a mission. Saturday night, the 31-1-1 (18 KO’s) southpaw welterweight meets undefeated pound for pound king Floyd Mayweather Jr. (43-0, 26 KO’s) for Mayweather’s WBC welterweight title. Ask Guerrero why he’ll be the first man to do what 43 others have failed to do and he’ll likely tell you, it’s all part of God’s plan for him.
The 30 year old native of Gilroy, CA, known as “The Ghost”, has been boxing since his early teens. Trained by his father Ruben in a barn on a Gilroy farm, Guerrero won the National Junior Olympics at just 15 years old. At 16, he was the youngest competitor in the 2000 Olympic trials, though he didn’t make the team.
Rather than stick around for a shot at the 2004 games, “The Ghost” opted to take up the pro ranks in 2001 at just 18 years of age. He jumped out to great start, winning the NABF featherweight title in his 14th bout, and went 16-0-1 (9 KO’s) before being dealt his first loss to Gamaliel Diaz in a close split decision and losing the NABF title. He attributed the loss to being split with his father for the first time and immediately fixed the problem. With Ruben Guerrero back in his corner, he disposed of Sandro Marcos (TKO 3) six months later and then stopped Diaz in a rematch to regain the NABF belt.
Following the Diaz victory, Guerrero went on to win five world titles in four weight divisions: the IBF featherweight belt twice, IBF super featherweight title, WBO and WBA interim lightweight titles, and the WBC interim welterweight title which he now holds. He picked up a few regional belts along the way as well and avoided a second blemish on his record when a loss to Orlando Salido was changed to a no-contest after Salido tested positive for steroids. Guerrero went on to regain the title he lost to Salido in his next bout.
His flourishing career didn’t come without troubles elsewhere however: in 2007 Guerrero’s wife Casey, the women he’d dated since he was 14 years old was diagnosed with leukemia. For years he trained and fought not knowing how much longer his wife would live. It was the family’s religious faith that got them though those trying times, and when a bone marrow donor was found in 2010 and a successful transplant was completed, things turned around completely. As Guerrero put it, their prayers were answered, and Casey is now cancer free.
Undefeated over his last 17 bouts (two ruled no-contests), Guerrero truly feels he’s the man picked by a higher power to dethrone the pound for pound king and move into Mayweather’s spotlight. He now has a healthy wife, and his hard work in the ring is finally paying off with the biggest opportunity of his career finally within reach. What could go wrong? Quite a bit it seems, and unfortunately Guerrero has only himself to blame for it.
Just one month shy of the biggest in-ring fight of his life, Guerrero was hit with weapons related felony charges when he was found in possession of a firearm during a pre-flight check at New York’s JFK Airport. An unloaded gun and three empty magazines were given to bagging agents by Guerrero prior to his scheduled return flight to Las Vegas. Unfortunately he wasn’t aware of the gun laws in New York State, the most strict in the country which make it a felony to carry any unlicensed firearm, loaded or unloaded, within the state. Guerrero is licensed to carry in California, but that license doesn’t apply in New York and although he did the right thing by informing agents of the weapon, law enforcement had no choice but to arrest him. He’s scheduled to appear in court May 14th.
The arrest didn’t affect the fight itself, but knowing that 10 days later he’ll have to make the first of what will be many appearances in a New York court to answer four felony gun charges can’t make things any easier for him. Looking at possible prison time would distract anyone, and for Guerrero that distraction may be the one thing that takes his golden opportunity and makes him just another name on Floyd’s record.
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